Florida Power & Light told to revise its energy conservation plan

The Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday told Florida Power & Light Co. to resubmit its energy conservation plan to meet yearly goals established by the agency under state law.

FPL, the state’s largest utility with 2.1 million customers, was the last among seven utilities to have its plans reviewed by the PSC as provided for by the Legislature in 2008 revisions of the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act.

The PSC has approved plans submitted by the Orlando Utilities Commission, the Florida Public Utilities Co., Tampa Electric Co. and JEA, formerly Jacksonville Electric Authority. But the agency has delayed action on plans submitted by FPL, Progress Energy and Gulf Power Co.

In a revised plan submitted July 1, FPL said increases for the average residential customer would range from $1.80 to $3.12 over the 10-year period covered in the plan.

On Tuesday, representatives of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the Florida Industrial Power Users Group called for additional analysis of the FPL plan to ensure that utility customers are being protected. Both groups are intervenors in the case.

Vicki Gordon Kaufman, an attorney representing the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, said energy costs play a critical role in whether large utility customers expand or move to other states. She said PSC staff determined the FPL plan called for conservation costs that increase from 48 percent in the first year to 82 percent in 2014.

“Those are pretty big increases in our mind,” Kaufman said. “And we would suggest to you in the current economic climate these kinds of increases may be a little too much to bear.”

A Wal-Mart representative suggested that larger customers that have taken their own steps toward conservation be able to exclude themselves from the utilities’ programs and their costs. Asked about that possibility by PSC commissioners, agency staff said allowing such an “opt-out” may prevent the state from meeting its conservation goals.

After the vote, FPL spokesman Mayco Villafana said the utility intends to revise the plan and resubmit it within 30 days as directed by the PSC.

“Our commitment is to address the commission’s goals and meet them in the most cost-efficient manner for our customers,” Villafana said.

The PSC is scheduled to consider Progress Energy’s revised proposal on Feb. 22. Gulf Power’s revised plan is scheduled to be considered on Jan. 25.

Commissioners, however, did vote unanimously to reject a staff recommendation to review whether FPL earned too much revenue last year.

The company was approved a base rate increase of $75.5 million last year, but in December the company reached a settlement agreement on the rate increase that stipulated the company would freeze utility rates through 2012 while maintaining the company’s return on equity.

(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting brucebritchie@gmail.com.)